‘We’re on frontline too’ - Appeal for care workers to join NHS priority shopping

People observe social distancing while queuing at Waitrose supermarket. Picture: Morgan Harlow/PA Wi

People observe social distancing while queuing at Waitrose supermarket. Picture: Morgan Harlow/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Supermarkets are being urged to add under-pressure care home workers caring for elderly residents at greatest risk of coronavirus to priority shopping initiatives, alongside NHS staff.

Tom Lyons, managing director of Norwich-based Black Swan Care Group. Picture: Ian Burt

Tom Lyons, managing director of Norwich-based Black Swan Care Group. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

As well as new measures to enforce social distancing in stores, most supermarket chains have introduced schemes to help NHS workers but that in some cases don’t extend to staff in care homes.

Tom Lyons, managing director of Black Swan Care Group, which has care homes in Norwich, Kings Lynn, Hunstanton, Great Yarmouth and Dereham, said staff had been turned away from Waitrose because they were not ‘frontline workers’.

He said: “It’s an incredibly difficult time for the whole country but in particular anyone working in any form providing care to vulnerable people.

“It is disappointing in some ways the lack of recognition for care and support staff who are putting themselves in the frontline to deliver vital care and who are being asked to help relieve pressure on hospitals by taking in extra residents.


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“I do notice that Sainsbury’s are doing more care workers, but certainly others are not.”

MORE: Every home in Norfolk to be sent letter asking if vulnerable need helpSainsbury’s has said both NHS and social care workers can join elderly and vulnerable shoppers entering stores as a priority between 8am and 9am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, M&S, Aldi and Iceland have all introduced hours where NHS staff will be given priority.

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Waitrose stores are setting aside a proportion of hard-to-find and essential products exclusively for NHS staff, on production of an NHS card, with priority checkout service to ensure they are served as quickly as possible.

However a Waitrose spokesperson said: “The steps are largely to support NHS workers who are really at the forefront of responding to unprecedented challenges. But branches are using their discretion at the moment when assessing local customer needs.”

Mr Lyons said: “We need to recognise that the 1.6 million social care staff that there are in the country are vital key workers and should be awarded the same respect as NHS staff.

“I am fully supportive of the work that the NHS does, but care staff are often doing equally important roles and are frontline workers in this too.”

MORE: The workplaces which have stayed open during the coronavirus crisisHe added: “A lot of our staff are making choices to put the care of residents above their family so that they can care for people by working many extra shifts to cover for those self-isolating and so that our residents do not suffer and are kept safe.”

WHAT SUPERMARKETS ARE DOING

Tesco - NHS staff will be allowed to do their shopping for an hour ahead of usual opening hours on Sundays upon displaying their NHS employee card. This is only available at Tesco’s larger stores and not their Express stores.

Sainsbury’s - Introduced their dedicated shopping slot for NHS staff and social care workers, between 7.30am and 8am, Monday to Saturday.

Asda - In larger stores, priority access will be allotted to NHS workers every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8am to 9am.

Morrisons - Does not have a specific shopping hour for elderly and vulnerable shoppers, but will give NHS staff early access to their stores between 7am and 8am every day apart from Sundays.

Waitrose - Setting aside “hard-to-find” and “essential products” exclusively for NHS staff, on production of an NHS card and giving NHS staff priority checkout service

M&S - NHS workers will be given priority access to M&S shelves on the first hour of Tuesday and Fridays.

Aldi - Open between 9.30am and 10am on Sundays soley for key workers in the NHS, police and fire service. These customers will also take priority at checkouts when they open at 10am. Entry dependent on relevant ID.

Iceland - Allocated its final hour of trading from Monday to Saturday for NHS staff only.

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